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Southern: Previews, predictions for Friday's games
OCVarsity's previews and predictions for the first-round games for the Orange County teams.
ALL GAMES FRIDAY
Garden Grove (8-2) vs. El Dorado (1-9)
Where, when: Garden Grove, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The defending champion Argonauts hope to rely on their key returners to spark another run to the title game. The first place to start is running back Jordan Antunez. The senior has rushed for 1,656 yards with 27 touchdowns. Defensively, look for seniors Malik Bilal, Fabian Ramos and Nate Garcia to make an impact on the game. The Golden Hawks haven’t won a game on the field since 2013. Their lone victory this season came by way of a forfeit. The Golden Hawks could take on a nothing-to-lose attitude and could be the most the dangerous team in the playoffs. Aaron Richardson leads the ground attack and Robert Arroyo is the leading receiver.
Prediction: Garden Grove
Santa Ana Valley (4-5-1) vs. Santa Ana (8-2)
Where, when: Santa Ana Valley HS, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Santa Ana city schools didn’t face each other during the regular season. The Saints finished third in the Golden West League. They started the season winning their seven games. The key to the Saints success has been their ground attack, with Jonathan and Jorge Briseno combining for nearly 2,000 yards. The Falcons had a slow start, going 0-4-1 through their first five games. They finished second in the Orange League, outscoring their opponents 134-31 in their league victories. Chris Hernandez has been the workhorse for the offense. He’s rushed for at least 115 yards in all but two games.
Prediction: Santa Ana
Godinez (6-4) vs. Westminster (8-2)
Where, when: Westminster HS, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Grizzlies were picked to finish last in the Orange Coast League, coming off of a winless season. First-year coach Michael Echaves was able to turn things around after a 1-3 start. Bryan Ibarra is one of the key players to watch. He led the team with 1,501 rushing yards and scored 18 touchdowns. This had the makings of a rebuilding year for the Lions, but they started the season with four consecutive victories and had another four-game winning streak after losing to Pacifica. Look for the Lions to rely on Matt Dinh and Josh Avila to lead the rushing attack and Isayah Anderson to contribute at receiver.
Brea Olinda (5-5) vs. Anaheim (4-6)
Where, when: Brea Olinda HS, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Wildcats finished tied for first in the North Hills League. They zeroing in on an undefeated title run before losing to Canyon in the regular-season finale. Brea Olinda will look to get Michael Martinson back on track after rushing for just 42 in the final game against Canyon. Defensively, Steven Hayes and Zach Arnold are two of the leaders on defense and Malik Campbell, who has seven interceptions. The Colonists finished in third place in the Orange League. They lost their last three games to end the regular season. Brandon Lopez is Anaheim’s leading tackler and one of the team’s leading rushers, along with Kevin Montoya and Joel Montes De Oca.
Prediction: Brea Olinda
Segerstrom (7-2-1) vs. Saddleback (6-4)
Where, when: Segerstrom HS, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Jaguars ended the regular season winning five consecutive games, including a 41-38 overtime thriller over Westminster to clinch the Golden West League title. Segerstrom doesn’t have one standout performer. The list of contributors is a long one, led by leading rusher Abel Diaz. The Roadrunners finished third in the Orange Coast League. They ended the season winning three of their final four games. Giovanni Estrada and Pedro Leon form a formidable ground attack for the Roadrunners. If they can get on track early, Saddleback could in line for the victory, but Segerstrom’s defense has been solid during the run to the league title
Rancho Alamitos (8-2) vs. El Modena (6-4)
Where, when: Bolsa Grande HS, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Vanguards advanced to the semifinals last season. This year’s team could be in line for another such run. If that’s going to be the case, then the defense will play a large role. El Modena has allowed only two teams (Canyon and Brea Olinda) to score at least 20 points. They will get a strong test from the Vaqueros and quarterback Blake Culbert. In his first year as the starter, Culbert passed for 2,426 yards with 23 touchdowns. Joe Navar led the way with 49 receptions and 756 yards. Rancho Alamitos advanced all the way to the finals last year. The nonleague schedule was extremely important as the new faces settled into their new roles. In order to slow down the Rancho Alamitos passing attack, El Modena will need to lean heavily on its ground attack with Kenneth Lamb.
Prediction: El Modena
Katella (10-0) vs. Los Amigos (3-7)
Where, when: Glover Stadium, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The season got off to a horrendous start for the Lobos as they lost their first five games. After a three-game winning streak to start Garden Grove League play, Los Amigos ended the season with consecutive losses to Rancho Alamitos and Garden Grove. The Knights are the second seed after posting an undefeated regular season. The Lobos are led by the trio of Jose Olvera, Jorge Najera and Johnny Alvarado. That group has rushed for a combined 1,964 yards. Katella has rushed 2,800 yards, led by Francisco Pineda with 1,072. Katella’s running game and defense, allowing just 11 points a game, will be the deciding factor.
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